Gym Credit for Gardening? Hallelujah.

I LOVE THIS. According to the New York Times, students at Princeton Public High School can, for physical-education credit, opt out of traditional gym class…and take gardening instead. The idea was conceived by Matt Wilkinson, a physical-education teacher and former wresting coach. “We’re giving students another option to mainstream physical education,” says Mr. Wilkinson. “How long is somebody going to play basketball or soccer? Gardening they can do their whole lives.” And turning over soil, he says, uses the same muscles employed for bicep curls. (We who garden are well aware of this fact.)

Should other schools follow Princeton’s lead? Read the article, and then tell me what you think.

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  1. Yes!!! If only I'd had that option in high school. I loathed gym class!

  2. As one who did everything possible to get out of gym, I say YES. All schools should provide this “gardening option.”

  3. Great article. Everyone should read it.

    Personally, I liked gym, but I can see the value in this alternative exercise program. In the age of sustainability, it makes sense for students to learn how to make raised beds, compost, etc., and to know how to grow their own food!

  4. Too bad the kids can't eat the produce they grow “because of existing contracts the school has with food service companies.”

    But I think the stats are great. Out of 27 kids in one class, 17 of them chose gardening!

  5. Gardenlady says:

    Just think of the beautiful grounds a school could have if students were given the option to take gym class in the garden.

  6. Jed Swift says:

    Hi Kevin

    I completely agree with this option for fitness and know that gardening serves more than the mortal body. It also serves the psyche and spirit.

    Best, Jed

  7. Jed – Amen to that.

  8. Does anyone doubt that gardening involves real exercise? You should see the sweat I worked up today, cleaning out perennial beds!!!

  9. Sheila – I'm well aware of the exercise involved in gardening! I can tell you that every muscle in my body aches today, after turning over the leaf mold and soil in the raised beds of my kitchen garden!

  10. Suzanne Brummel says:

    Sweet, this means I can use gardening chores for my kids as P.E. credits! (we homeschool)… to think we’d been doing it FOR NOTHING (wink) all these years.
    Sad thing is… When the schools decide to add it, everyone thinks it’s enriching, when
    homeschoolers try to get credit for it, we’re denying our kids a “proper” education. Can’t win,
    but I sure have some kids w/good strong arms and a love for gardening.

  11. Suzanne Brummel – Thanks for writing. Here’s my thinking on the matter: Home-schooled students should receive credit not only for gardening outdoors, but for gardening indoors too.

    As a matter of fact, last year a high-school teacher told me he uses my bulb-forcing posts and pictures in his biology class. He even had his students pot and force a number of bulbs. So there is even more to gardening than the phys-ed aspect!

  12. Kevin,

    I love that idea of also introducing the indoor garden in schools.


  13. Jan Edmondson says:

    I think this is a wonderful outstanding idea. I was raised in the country and love it and taught my son to appreciate the outdoors and our Arabian horses. We had a large garden my husband and his gardening friend would plant etc and I would help pick and can. Want to get into gardening again and really like your site here! Wonderfully entertaining and educational. Love your home and what you are doing to restore it. Copied your cookie recipe and hope to try it today. My son is now living up north, West Haven, Conn, where are you in relation to there?

  14. Hi Jan Edmondson – So glad you enjoy this website. I’m in Columbia County, NY, which is about 2 1/2 hours from West Haven, CT.

  15. Wouldn’t it be nice for the NYT to do a follow up article to see if the program has survived and if so, are they now able to use some of the vegetation in school lunches, too? That might be tough, of course, because of the inconsistency of the quantity and timing of the produce, but perhaps they’ve managed to write in a little flexibility in the lunch contracts. What a great program. I’d have had a better HS gpa if this type of gym class had been offered instead of bowling (I got a C!).

  16. Naomi Shelton says:

    What a fabulous idea! I hated gym and would do anything to get out of it. No interest whatever, but I certainly would have benefitted from the exertion that gardening provides. The other thing about this option for kids is that they are learning where food comes from! And that they can, with some effort and sweat grow healthier foods than they get at the grocery store. I am just reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. One of the premises of her book is that we have a whole generation of young people that have no idea where their food comes from or what it should look and taste like. SO, I think this coach’s idea is great and I really hope it catches on. Also, I think that even tho’ the foods the students grow can’t be used in the school lunch program, the class could use them to prepare a yummy meal for themselves.

  17. WE HAVE HAD NOTHING but RAIN,RAIN,RAIN,in the U K ,THE COUNTRYSIDE,is completely under water,and thousands of people,have been flooded out of their homes,so i have not been able to get outside to do THE WINTER SOWING,have i missed my chance?,i noticed Kevin you planted them last year in January( love love love) the your web Yvonne

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